First Hope Downs ore leaves site

Hope Downs 4 in WA’s Pilbara region has achieved a significant milestone with the first iron ore leaving the mine.

The Hope Downs iron ore project, which is party mined under a 50:50 joint venture with Rio and Hancock Prospecting, won final approval to develop their $1.12 billion joint venture project in March.

Over the weekend, Gina Rinehart’s daughter Ginia took to the Hancock Prospecting website to announce the maiden train was being loaded with ore.

A photo posted on the notice board sheet of the site declared: "days to first ore on train – 1". She captioned the photo with the line "impending first load out of ore wagons for the new Hope Downs 4 mine".

The reports the first trial load of Hope Downs 4 ore left by rail yesterday.

The new project forms part of Rio Tinto's plans to expand iron ore production in the Pilbara by 353 million tonnes per annum by 2015.

Rio has also flagged expansions at its Cape Lambert port and its Nammuldi mine as part of the expansions.

Earlier this year Rinehart said three deposits within the Hope Downs precinct – Baby Hope, Hope 2, and Hope 5 – were “convenient for early development”.


LNG-powered mining trucks for WA

Energy giant Shell are looking to introduce LNG-powered fleets at Australian mines as part of a push to  increase natural gas use beyond the export of LNG, with BHP and Rio Tinto both looking to implement the technology.

The two big miners are said to be looking at LNG-powered fleets for their West Australian operations as a way to offset high energy costs.

A spokesman for Rio told The Australian that it was looking at dual fuel technologies for the use in the Pilbara.

"There are some real challenges with the impact on payload, refuelling frequency and certainty over supply sources, but our work in this area remains ongoing," he said.

Stuart Macdonald, a global LNG applications technologist working for Shell pointed out the advantages of using the fuel in the mining industry at Shell’s Technology Forum late last year.

“If we zoom in on the Australian market there’s an abundance of supply,” he said.

“It’s a sustainable fuel, it’s not just a fix,” he said.

“Its cost competitiveness and its value as a cheaper fuel is not just something we see as a driver for the coming two to five years but for many decades to come.”

However, it is expected that any move to LNG-powered trucks is at least five years away with supply, transport, storage and truck conversion the main hurdles in implementing the technology.

Modifying engines and tanks, the use of the gas in high horse power engines and its energy content compared to diesel are all challenges the gas faces when discussing its application on mine sites.

To this end Westport Resources Australia and Caterpillar have joined forces to develop natural gas fuel systems for mine trucks and EMD locomotives.

“We recently signed an agreement with caterpillar to jointly develop direct injection engines specifically for the mine trucks the 793, 795 and 797 – and also part of that agreement is with EMD for the MD&10 engines used in the locomotives,” Westport Innovations Australia managing director Bruce Hodgins said.

The new joint venture is aimed at revolutionising the way the mining industry consumes energy.

Hodgins told Australian Mining that while the technology was some years off, he expected LNG to become a predominant fuel within the mining industry.

“For certain segments of mining and for certain areas it will become dominant, and frankly I think coal is one of those areas where you will see it being taken up as the predominant fuels,” he said.

“This is something we all need to partnership on, so we are working with fuel suppliers, engine technology people, the OEMs, customers and government regulators to address a lot of these (issues).”

Kim Palfrey, general manager of projects at New Hope Group, told Australian Mining that he expects the technology to be slowly phased in by Australian companies.

“LNG is some way off yet and will be expensive to implement,” he said.

“It will mean that this technology will more likely be phased in over time due to the extent of modification required convert to LNG power.”

However, Palfrey added that the gas was an important chapter in Australia’s fuel needs.

“It offers significant advantages to Australia as the mining and transport industries convert  to LNG powered equipment.

“We should be somewhat protected from the volatility of the fossil fuel markets,” he said.


Transport creating more jobs than mining

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that the transport and postal sector is creating more jobs than the mining sector.

As The West Australian reports, there are now more than 600,000 workers in transport and postal nationally. This represents a 55,000 lift in the past nine months. The increase is due to the boom in online retailing.

In addition, the statistics show that mining employment in WA and across the nation peaked about a year ago.

Figures for the state’s mining sector show that there are currently 110,500 people employed directly in the industry. This is an increase of 1400 over the previous three months.

WA mining job numbers peaked at 116,700 mid-last year. Since that time, the number of people employed in the industry has decreased by more than 6000.

In contrast, the number of Western Australians working in the transport, postal and warehousing sector has increased by about 14 per cent in the past year to 69,100.

Truck driver blames bees for accident

A West Australian truck driver’s road train rolled over after he battled with a swarm of bees that invaded his cab.

The driver is recovering in hospital with multiple fractures after the accident, The West Australian reported.

Police are investigating the accident which occurred on the Great Eastern Highway near Southern Cross, 370km east of Perth, on Thursday morning.

The driver told officers he was trying to swat the bees away when he lost control of his vehicle.

A crane was required to move the road train which blocked the road for several hours.

Image: All Freight Connect

Heavy haulage in the Pilbara

As Western Australia's mines expand, they're demanding more from haulage companies and local infrastructure, writes Andrew Duffy. 

Watching heavy machinery in action on a mine site can be a rather transfixing experience. 

Few industries can match the sheer scale of the mining sector and the size of the equipment it demands. And as production rates grow higher and higher, equipment grows larger and larger. 

While many people are impressed by the scale of equipment, few spare a thought for how it made it there in the first place. 

Whether its machinery, equipment or buildings, most of the stuff on site needs to slowly and carefully find its way there. 

And a lot of this new movement, like everything else in the industry, is starting to centre around the Pilbara region. 
Some of the expansions by iron ore companies in this region are immense, and starting to put heavy demands on local infrastructure and businesses to meet their needs. 

A number of traffic control companies specialising in moving heavy equipment are now capitalising on this increase. 

A1 Labour Management, which specialises in traffic control and moving equipment for mining companies, has been one business to see a sharp rise in demand from Pilbara miners.

Wayne O'Neil from A1 Labour Management told Logistics & Materials Handling some of the Pilbara's biggest players, including BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group, had been driving the rise in mining's heavy haulage. 
O'Neil said developments further south had also kept A1 busy. 

"With all the different expansion projects happening at the moment, from now until the end of the year we're going to be very busy with it," he said. 

"There's definitely a couple of years worth of work happening out here." 

Recently, A1 has been managing the movement of several large loads for FMG. 

"We did a lot of stuff for them with Cloudbreak and Chirstmas Creek," O'Neil explained. 

"But we've worked with a lot of different companies. We've done stuff for BHP Billiton as well as Citic Pacific. 

"In the past, we've moved equipment for the Yandi and Area C mines, and work for Jimblebar is about to start next month." 

O'Neil said demand would also rise as Hancock Prospecting's massive Roy Hill project, lead by Gina Rinehart, started construction. 

With most of this work the starting point for the equipment is Port Hedland. O'Neil said after being manufactured in China, Thailand, and other parts of Asia and the world, the equipment was shipped to the Pilbara port. 

But because of the size, moving it through the Pilbara's long narrow roads presents some challenges. 

O'Neil said sometimes the gear reached dimensions around 15 metres high and 15 metres wide, and prior to the move crews would need to clear the road to make sure the equipment would fit. And because of the safety liability, the equipment is only moved at night. 

"It's a safety issue, plus the volume of traffic is quite considerable during the day where as night it's not," O'Neil explained. 

"We mainly go down the highway at night, and it usually takes two nights to complete the delivery," he added.

ACCC gives Viterra more time to improve wheat port capacity auction in SA

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has issued a statement saying it has agreed to port terminal operator Viterra, to vary its port terminal services access undertaking.

The variation will allow Viterra more time to work with industry to improve the proposed auction system for port terminal services in South Australia for the export of bulk wheat, the statement reads.

This will see the original timeframe of May 2012 to introduce an auction system extended to November 2012.

Viterra is required by the undertaking to introduce an auction system in South Australia, the ACCC said.

The port terminal operator applied for more time in order to develop an auction system that addresses the problems highlighted by recent auctions in Western Australia.

In the statement, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the extended timeframe will provide Viterra and the industry with the opportunity to thoroughly consider and address complex problems that may have arisen with the proposed auction system.

"The South Australian wheat industry needs time to develop an auction system in order to avoid the inefficient outcomes experienced in WA,” he said.

"The introduction of an effective auction system will promote competition across the South Australian wheat industry to the benefit of Australian wheat farmers.”

The variations to the access undertaking provide that in the event that an auction system is not ready by August, Viterra will then accept bookings on a first-in, first served basis for shipping capacity between 1 October 2012 and 31 January 2013. 

The variation allows for an auction to be held in November for shipping capacity from 1 February 2013, unless further extended by agreement.

The ACCC’s role

The ACCC has a role in approving access undertakings for wheat exporters as part of the deregulation of the wheat industry.

Access undertakings are intended to ensure that third party exporters are able to access the port terminals operated by businesses that compete with them, ensuring fair competition in the market for the export of bulk wheat.

The ACCC accepted an access undertaking from Viterra on 28 September 2011. Part of this undertaking is an obligation to introduce an auction system as the primary means of allocating port terminal capacity by May 2012.

Viterra's varied port terminal services access undertaking and the ACCC's full reasons for the decision will be available at

Image: Viterra


Court “soft” on safety breach penatly for crane company

The Western Australian Supreme Court’s decision to halve crane company D&G Hoist’s $180,000 fine for breaching workplace safety laws, which resulted in the death of a 22-year old worker in 2007, was “too light” a punishment, according to the deceased’s parents, ” The West Australian reports.

Luke Murrie, had only been working at the Malaga yard for only a few weeks when a 375kg stack of gear fell on him, resulting in his death.

The company was initially fined $180,000, which included a $90,000 fine for the company, and $45,000 each for of the two directors, David Keating and Luigi "Gino" Decesare.

The penalty was reduced to a total $90,000, $70,000 for the company and $10,000 for the directors on appeal earlier this year.

Western Australia’s safety watchdog, WorkSafe, is appealing against the Supreme Court’s decision.

More cranes ordered for new WA industrial estate

Konecranes has secured orders for more 10 tonne single girder overhead cranes from property developer J & P Group for a new industrial estate at Picton near Bunbury in Western Australia.

The two companies are currently in negotiations for the supply of a further 10 ton crane for the Picton site. They follow delivery of the first batch of orders.

To date, J & P Group has erected four sheds on the estate, housing a total of six overhead cranes each with a span of 21m. The Picton estate will eventually have around 100 industrial sheds.

J & P Group financial controller, Jim Zheng said the project was originally being serviced by a competitor crane supplier; however service dissatisfaction led the property developer to change to Konecranes.

Zheng said the installation of the crane units was straightforward and the new cranes are already in use.

The new industrial estate will be occupied by largely mining and refining companies. One prospective tenant for the Picton site is said to require three or four sheds, each one housing up to 10 cranes.

J & P Group is receiving support from Konecrane service branch in Pinjarra to the north of Bunbury.

The property group has also recently signed an ongoing service agreement with Konecranes to provide routine maintenance for the 6 new overhead cranes from the company, as well as 3 overhead cranes previously purchased from other crane manufacturers.

Perth-based Vmoto ships electric scooter to Malaysia

Perth-based global scooter manufacturer and distributor, Vmoto has begun shipment of its 12OS Electric Scooter to Malaysian electric vehicle company, Eclimo.

The Australian scooter-maker will supply 1,274 units of its rolling frames in completely knocked down (CKD) form in schedule shipments under an ordering plan struck between the two companies.

The CKD units supplied will contain all components other than batteries and the electric motor, which will be supplied independently.

The first 72 units are expected to arrive in Malaysia shortly, according to a statement released by Vmoto to the ASX last week. A further shipment of 216 units is scheduled to leave later this month.

Subsequent shipments will consist of three containers (216 units) per month through to July this year. Delivery of all 1,296 units is expected to be completed by July.

Vmoto said a further supply agreement is expected to be negotiated upon completion of the current order agreement.

Shipment requirements

Under Malaysia law, products distributed locally are required to be predominately assembled in the country using local labour. For this reason, the scooters are shipped in CKD form and assembled in Malaysia.

Vmoto said it will send two technicians to Malaysia to assist wit the assembly of the first shipment of scooters.

Eclimo holds one of two local manufacturing licenses for the manufacture and distribution of electric scooters in Malaysia.

Components and assembly

The stator block for the scooters is provided by KLD Energy Technologies based in Austin, Texas, U.S.

The battery system for the scooter, provided by ETI Tech of Malaysia, features the company’s state of the art electric system, which has been integrated in the Vmoto scooter range over the past 18 months.

The 500w motor employs patented technology which reportedly allows for extended range and battery fire, and higher top-speed. The motor is considered to offer extremely high performance in comparison to existing motors.

The scooter will run on lithium batteries.

The scooter will be marked on an OEM basis by Eclimo and will be called the Eclimo ES11.

Eclimo is also establishing new dealer premises within Malaysia to distributor the scooters.

Government support

Eclimo has received substantial Malaysian Government support on the project. The company has stated that it would initially like to sell more than 20,000 electric scooters as part of the program to advance the country’s clean energy strategy.


ASX-listed Vmoto specialises in the manufacture of hi-tech motor scooters and All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) using state-of-the-art production facilities situated in China.

Vmoto also operates Shanghai-based international scooter and ATV trading and distribution company, to support sales in over 50 countries.

In Australia, Vmoto are licensed as an importer and manufacturer of VMOTO motorcycles, holding full volume Australian compliance.

Image: Vmoto

Metso to supply bulk materials handling equipment to Hamersley Iron

Metso will supply a tandem rotary railcar dumper to Hamersley Iron’s Cape Lambert operations.

Hamersley, part of the Rio Tinto Group, will take delivery of the equipment to its Port B iron ore operation in the Pilbara.

Metso, a Finish-headquartered technology and services provider for the mining, construction and energy industries, did not disclose the value of the order.

The deal includes supply of spare parts, technical assistance during installation, pre-commissioning, commissioning and performance testing.

The railcar dumper is designed to allow lower maintenance as well as higher, more efficient material output flow. A reduction of components aims to make the equipment easier (and safer) to maintain.

Design of the equipment was achieved by working closely with Rio Tinto and the project’s engineering team.

This is the second equipment of this kind delivered to Hamersley Iron for the project, with the first order reaching the company in 2011.

The next delivery is scheduled for the second quarter of 2013.

Image credit: IM – International Mining

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